Twenty-one year old Cesar Puello is still a ways down the pipeline in the New York Mets farm system but has the combination of size and speed that could put him in the Major League picture in the coming years. At 6' 2" and 195 lbs, Puello has the tools to be successful and has shown improvements in different areas of his game each year. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic at age 17, he has moved up the lower ranks of the Met system from the Gulf Coast Mets (2008) to Kingsport (2009), to Savannah (2010) and is now in his second season in St. Lucie. Last season he was one of just two 20-years olds in the Florida League to hit ten home runs, joining a club that includes many current major leaguers who accomplished the same feat. Matt Kemp, Jay Bruce, Logan Morrison, Austin Jackson, Cody Ross as well as David Wright and former Met prospect Mike Carp are a few of the names who had double-digit homers before they could legally drink.
Ranked #77 amongst all MLB prospects by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season and sixth amongst Met prospects by Toby Hyde (Mets Minor League Blog) this past winter, Puello has caught the attention of more than a few scouts around baseball. When describing Puello, terms like "strong, athletic build," a "good throwing arm and range" and "basestealer's speed" typically come into the discussion. While he hasn't been able to replicate the big averages he put up in Kingsport and Savannah (.296 in 2009 and .292 in 2010) he has driven in more runs with each season, with a career high 50 RBI in 2011. While he stole 19 bases last season, Puello's best year on the basepaths was in 2009 where he swiped 45 bags while getting caught ten times.
Cesar Puello is currently on the Mets 40-man roster and is batting .245 with one homer, ten stolen bases and 21 runs scored through 41 games in St. Lucie. If he can continue to cut down on his strikeouts (82 in 2010, 103 in 2011, but 39 so far in 2012) and continue to showcase his speed (10-for-12 in stolen base attempts) and glove (.989 fielding percentage) in both center and right field, we could see Puello at Citi Field sometime in 2013, if not briefly as a September callup this season. The Mets seem content with taking their time with Puello and with good reason, as the outfield is young enough as it is, especially on nights where the lineup is Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda. He'll be an interesting one to watch grow and if he makes it to Flushing on a full time basis, surely provide the team with the kind of speed and energy the Mets need as they continue to rebuild.
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